The Indian Space Research Organization (IRSO) has announced its intention to build a full-fledged reusable space shuttle for orbital testing after the third landing of the experimental mini-spacecraft RLV-LEX. This was reported by The Register.

This experimental vehicle is called RLV-LEX (Reusable Launch Vehicle Landing EXperiment) and is a small version of the NASA Space Shuttle program, or the Boeing X-37 space plane of the US Air Force. The vehicle flew for the first time in April 2023, and then again in March 2024.

To test the possibility of landing, the device was again dropped from the helicopter. This time, the wind was stronger than during the previous flights. During the landing, the vehicle corrected its course by 500 meters and “made a precise horizontal landing on the centerline of the runway,” according to IRSO.

The landing speed of the vehicle is reported to have exceeded 320 km/h, while military fighters land at 280 km/h and passenger airliners at 260 km/h.

The mission used the same vehicle and onboard systems as the second test flight, another important achievement on the path to reusable spacecraft.

The organization reports that the successful landing means that the agency has gained the experience needed for a future orbital mission, which means that it is now “starting to build the RLV-ORV, a reusable orbital vehicle.”

No timeline for the development or launch of this vehicle has been announced.

India’s next major mission is called Vyommitra, and it involves the launch of a humanoid robot to test the Gaganyaan manned mission.

Vyommitra is expected to fly later this year, and Gaganyaan is scheduled to launch in 2025. The goal of the project is to deliver three Indian astronauts to low Earth orbit.